Protecting our kids. From pacifist to mama bear. By Marisa Cohen for

I have always been a very peaceful, non-threatening person. In fact, I was known as such a softie in college that in a gesture of irony, my friends bought me a T-shirt that said “Cohen the Barbarian.” Funny, right? Well, a couple of decades later I find myself pulling that shirt out of the back of my closet and wearing it again. But this time I mean it. Because now I am the mother of two little girls, and if you do anything to hurt them, I swear I will crush you with my bare hands.

Just last week, I was walking down lower Fifth Avenue with my three-year-old, and an oblivious woman on her cellphone swung her giant Gap shopping bag right into my daughter’s face. As Molly wailed and rubbed her cheek, I screamed, “Hey, watch it, lady,” but what I really wanted to do was shove the cell phone down her throat and then swing the shopping bag around like an Olympic hammer and hurl it right at her head. And how about all those times I board a crowded subway with my five year old and no one gets off their lazy bum to give her their seat. As the train lurches from side to side and I grab the pole with one hand and Bellamy’s coat with the other, I glare at all the able-bodied twentysomething men who are off in iPod Lalaland, and fantasize about grabbing them by their collars and tossing them face-first onto the grimy floor. Now try to pretend you don’t see us, assholes!

So it really makes me laugh when I think of all the iconic moms I grew up with – Carol Brady, Elise Keaton, Mrs. Partridge – who projected a constant aura of nurturing serenity. Sure, you do get that baby bliss a few hours a day, when you’re home, the baby is fed and happy, you’re zoning on the couch together in front of Family Feud. But take two steps outside your front door, where there is a world of people who don’t really give a shit about your child’s safety, comfort and personal space, and you can turn into an adrenaline-charged Mama Bear, ready to take a chunk out of the neck of anyone who comes near her cubs.

Now, maybe it’s because I’m a bit of a wimp, or maybe it’s just that all those years of practicing yoga and listening to John Lennon albums have kept me from going completely over the edge, but so far I have managed to keep these protective urges under wraps. There have been plenty of nasty glances, a surreptitious shove or two, but no actual violence. However, I can totally relate to those women who do go there (and I have to say, deep down, I kind of admire them). Like the mom who recently posted on that after some loser on the street carelessly flicked his cigarette butt into her daughter’s stroller, she marched over and smacked him so hard that his face swelled up and he called the cops. (The cop took one look at the burn mark on the baby’s blanket and gave the smoker a ticket for littering).